28 April 1999
Wanted: Autism Volunteers
A London doctor is making an urgent appeal to parents of young children with autism to help her with a pioneering research project into the condition.
Children about to embark upon early home or nursery-based programmes are needed for the study being funded by the leading medical research charity Action Research.
Professor Patricia Howlin is based at St George’s Hospital Medical School. She will follow children from nursery age until they reach junior school, comparing social and intellectual skills on a group of children involved in intensive home-based programmes with those attending nursery schools from an early age.
The appeal by Professor Howlin coincides with Autism Awareness Week between 1-8 May `99. Altogether the doctor, supported by Action Research, hopes to recruit around 30 children beginning home-based programmes and a similar number attending specialist nursery schools.
Experts estimate between 20-30 individuals in every 10,000 are affected by autism. Symptoms can include severe impairment to language and social development, marked obsessional tendencies and a variety of other problems.
Professor Howlin said: ``We will be aiming to identify which children can benefit most from different types of programme and the more general effects it has on families.’’
She added: ``So far research is on schedule but we still need to recruit as many children as possible. If you know of a child with autism who is beginning intensive therapy at home, or of a nursery school with special interest in autism, please let me know.’’
Parents of children with autism who are willing to give permission for their child to take part in the research should contact Professor Patricia Howlin at St George’s Hospital Medical School, London on 0181 725 5597/5604.
Professor Howlin will be available for interview by arrangement. For further information please contact Victoria Heaton in the Action Research press office on 01403 327403.